Sophie Ranald answers some bookish questions.
The book you’ve just written
The Frog Prince was published in December 2014. It’s the story of a Will’s trials and tribulations in the world of online dating, and Stella’s realisation that the happy-ever-after ending she thought she’d found might not be what she hoped for. It was also a chance for me to indulge my love of classic fairytales. I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I loved writing it!
The book that made you want to be a writer
This is a tough one to answer, because I can’t remember not reading and not wanting to write! I suppose the first book that really engrossed me and took me into another world would have been JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, which my mother read to my sister and me when I was about five years old. I’ve returned to it over and over again at different stages of my life and I always find something new to admire in it.
The book that you turn to for comfort
Not a book but a publisher – Persephone Books – is my ultimate go-to for comfort reading. The publishers have sought out and reissued forgotten books, mostly from the late 19th to mid-20th century. The books are so beautiful, with their dove-grey covers and end-papers in fabric designs from the period. Just walking through the door of their wonderful shop in Lamb’s Conduit Street makes me happy.
The book that makes you laugh
Nancy Mitford’s wonderful The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate should be prescribed reading for any writer of romantic comedy. They are just so brilliantly funny, beautifully written and well crafted. I love the complexity and subtlety with which all the relationships are portrayed, and how, although both books are about looking for and finding love, they’re equally concerned with all the other problems, joys and triumphs that make up the fabric of women’s lives.
The book that surprised you
Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard is one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years. I wasn’t surprised by how much I enjoyed it, because so many of my friends had recommended it, but the plot is so clever and there are twists and turns all the way through.
The book that defines chick lit for you
That would have to be Marian Keyes’ Last Chance Saloon. I love all her books but if I had to pick a favourite that would be it. For me, it has all the ingredients of good chick lit: strong female characters with complex and believable relationships, humour, plenty of details about fashion and food, and of course Marian’s incomparable humour.
The book you’re most looking forward to
I was delighted to see that Pippa Wright has a new novel coming out in March. I’ve loved her previous books and I can’t wait to read The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore – isn’t that just the best title?
The book you’re planning next
I’m in the early stages of my fourth novel, which I hope will be out in the summer. I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of jinxing it, but it’s about blasts from the past, female friendship and immersive theatre!
You live together, laugh together, borrow her shoes and eyeliner – is there anything you can’t share with your sister?
Ellie’s younger sister Rose has it all. She’s beautiful, stylish and dates gorgeous, glamorous millionaires, while Ellie is quite happy watching TV on the sofa with her old mate Ben. But when Rose brings her new boyfriend home, it’s lust at first sight for Ellie. And although she knows it’s wrong, everything changes: she’ll do whatever it takes to get Oliver, even if it means abandoning her principles and turning a deaf ear to her friends. After all, would it be so wrong to take up running, put some highlights in her hair and make herself look a tiny little bit more like Rose? But as Ellie follows in her sister’s stiletto-heeled footsteps, she realises that finding love could mean losing the most important thing in the world.
Sophie Ranald is the youngest of five sisters. She was born in Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa until an acute case of itchy feet brought her to London in her mid-20s. As an editor for a customer publishing agency, Sophie developed her fiction-writing skills describing holidays to places she’d never visited. In 2011, she decided to disregard all the good advice given to aspiring novelists and attempt to write full-time. After one false start, It Would Be Wrong to Steal My Sister’s Boyfriend (Wouldn’t It?) seemed to write itself. Sophie also writes for magazines and the web about food, fashion and running. She lives in south-east London with her amazing partner Hopi and Purrs, their adorable little cat.